Lahore, August 20: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concern over the murder of two Ahmedis in the last three days and over reports of denial of shelter to members of the Ahmedi community displaced by massive floods in South Punjab, and has called upon the government to take urgent measures to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of belief and that assistance and protection are not denied to a community that faces specific threats. In a statement issued on Friday, HRCP said:
“The unrelenting targeted killings of members of the Ahmedi community by extremists is a poor reflection on the State’s obligation to protect the lives of all subjects. This week, the murder of an Ahmedi in Sanghar and another, a doctor, in Karachi only highlights the impunity the perpetrators of such heinous crimes enjoy. Only bringing the culprits to justice and promoting tolerance in society would bring an end to these senseless killings and would give the Ahmedi community confidence that they can lead peaceful lives as equal citizens of Pakistan. The HRCP is also shocked by reports that government officials and local clerics have refused to provide shelter to around 500 flood-affected Ahmedi families from Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts.
The Commission has noted with extreme concern reports of lack of provision of relief goods to the flood-affected Ahmedi families, expulsion of displaced Ahmedis from a government school in Dera Ghazi Khan and from rented lodgings elsewhere in South Punjab following clerics’ pressure as well as the issuance of edicts by clerics that the affected Ahmedis must not be provided help. HRCP reiterates the urgent need for distribution of relief goods and extension of other support to the affected people without any discrimination on the basis of faith or gender. The fact that the Ahmedis are a vulnerable community on account of their religious beliefs must lead to specific assistance and protection measures for them, including protection of their lives and property.
The extensive scale of displacement and destruction by the massive floods has understandably stretched the resources of the government to their very limits. However, it is hoped that whatever little is available from any source will be distributed among those in need without discrimination on the basis of religious belief. It would be a greater tragedy than the devastation caused by the floods if the people cannot find enough humanity and compassion in their hearts to rise above personal biases to help without distinction fellow human beings that are in desperate need of help.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan